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In the Know/A Look at The Week Ahead

Collision Course in 'Changing Lanes'

April 08, 2002

Director Roger Michell likens it to a "morality play" or a "parable for our times." Producer Scott Rudin says audiences will not only identify with the two leading characters but end up rooting for them. The film is called "Changing Lanes," and although it has elements of a thriller, it is really more of an adult drama that its creators hope will prove thought-provoking.

Debuting Friday, the Paramount Pictures release presents Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson as men involved in a rush-hour fender-bender on New York City's crowded FDR Drive. What begins as a minor collision, however, turns two complete strangers into vicious adversaries. Still, the movie is more philosophical than action-oriented--which makes it more of a marketing challenge for the studio.

"It's not really about road rage at all," Michell explains. "It's just the tiny sparks that turn these two men's universe inside out. They get thrown into a washing machine and tumble around all day and come out at the other end."

Rudin said he was drawn to the material (Chap Taylor and Michael Tolkin receive screenplay credit) because it asks: What would happen to two people if the rules didn't hold?

"I live in New York," Rudin says, "and I sometimes walk around the city and wonder why people aren't killing each other. And how slightly below the surface the impulse to kill each other lies. I think everybody who sees it is one of those two guys."

Compiled by Times staff writers

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